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Brendan Rodgers poised for big change

Celtic could be looking for a new first team coach with Harry Kewell expected to take over from Kevin Muscat as manager of Yokohama F Marinos.

The J-League side have enjoyed success under Ange Postecoglou and Kevin Muscat with the former Socceroos winger the logical choice to retain the identity set up by the current Spurs boss.

Kewell has enjoyed a very successful 18 months at Celtic which has included two Champions League campaigns, giving him an insight into top level coaching and management after failing to make any impression managing at Oldham and Barnet.

Out of the blue Postecoglou invited the former Liverpool and Leeds winger to join his coaching staff at Celtic with Kewell resisting the option to move to Spurs in the summer.

Brendan Rodgers was happy to keep the Australian on board but at tea time on Thursday Japanese website Sponichi reported:

It was revealed on the 7th that Harry Kewell (45), a former Australian national team forward and coach of Scottish First Division Celtic, has emerged as the top candidate to become Yokohama’s new manager. 

According to those involved, negotiations are progressing smoothly, and if a formal decision is made, he will succeed director Kevin Muscat (50), whose retirement was announced on the same day.

Kewell, who earned the nickname “The Wizard of Oz” during his playing days, played for Premier League teams such as Leeds and Liverpool, and was a famous player who wore the number 10 on the Australian national team for many years. 

He played in a total of three games, including the first round of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, which he won 3-1 against Japan, and the 2011 Asian Cup final, which he lost in overtime. After retiring in 2014, he gained experience as a manager in England’s lower leagues, and in 2022 he received an offer from Celtic’s manager Postecoglou (currently at Tottenham) to become a coach. 

Last season, he learned offensive soccer under the coach of his hometown, who coached Yokohama from 2018 to 2021, and has coached players such as Furuhashi and Maeda from the Japanese national team.

Muscat was appointed midway through the 2021 season as the successor to fellow coach Postecoglou. Inheriting the “attacking football” style from his predecessor, he led them to the J1 title for the first time in three seasons last season. This season, aiming for a consecutive victory, they battled with Kobe until the very end, but ended up finishing in 2nd place. 

President Akihiro Nakayama has stated the club’s policy of continuing to play aggressive football, saying, “We will continue to play deep attacking football,” and Kewell, who inherits Coach Postecoglou’s philosophy, fits the criteria of a successor manager.

If Kewell takes over, it will be his first time managing a team in the top league. Although he does not have much experience, he has a good reputation for his coaching that is close to the players, and the status of future negotiations will be a focus of attention.

Losing Kewell would be a blow to Celtic but not something that should come as much of a shock, a turnover of voices and ideas on the training ground every couple of years retains a freshness.

Some coaches will be happy with a long term role in the background while others will be looking to get back into frontline management.

When Rodgers returned to Celtic in the summer Glen Driscoll was the only coach that he brought in, having had six months to assess the situation he’ll have a couple of names in mind that can add to his existing coaching team of John Kennedy and Gavin Strachan.

Stephen McManus was replaced by Kewell with the former Celtic defender moving to work with the Celtic B team alongside Darren O’Dea.

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